My friend from China emailed, I think yesterday… I don’t check my emails everyday like I should, sometimes I forget… And before you think ‘oh no, she’s going to bitch about Luckas again!’, rest assured this is far from being the case.
I know I bitch a lot, but this girl is one of my oldest friends, and she’s a nitpicker, she has a very analytical mind, which… Is insane, because she likes Twilight and 50 Shades of Grey and other similar crap so damn much! But then, if she wasn’t completely fucking nuts we wouldn’t hit it off so well, I guess… The point is she brings up a lot of genuine criticism about my writing from time to time that I appreciate and she has her fangirl moments too. 99% of them involve either Jake or Victor, whoo… You guys don’t know yet because he’s one of my original book characters; I’ll talk a little bit about him in a second, because it’s relevant.
This latest email she sent was titled “I’m impressed” and that sort of shocked me. Not that I assume she doesn’t think I’m a good writer, she obsessively reads my stuff and is opinionated to borderline disturbing levels… It’s just never been a thing that we talk about; what I do right in my writing. It doesn’t need to be said, I know she thinks I’m brilliant; it’s one of those little things we kinda disagree on in fact. So there has never been that many compliments thrown about in our conversations. Needless to say I was curious to know what this was about.
It was about Dastan. She told me she had recently reread the first scene I wrote with him back in SOP and admitted that when she first read that and then his character profile before SOF started… She was completely sure she was going to hate him; that he’d be the slacker, the drunk mercenary, the guy who flirts with all the girls, the comic relief… and have nothing resembling any sort of emotional depth. The scene with him and Indrani meeting Ali for the first time has the two girls talking and him coming around and slapping Indrani in the head out of nowhere, and then trying to put the moves on Ali. She hated that scene also; she thought it was just proving her point in how childish and superficial his character would be.
Well, she said she was really impressed reading back and realizing she just loves him now. So she started to read each and every one of his posts from that very first one.
And here’s what makes me really happy; even beyond the compliments on how I developed him… She noticed the fact I’ve built up the present moment of Dastan’s life from the very first post in SOF. I tried to make it as subtle as possible and I hadn’t planned how I was going to do it or whether he would survive and move on from it, but between his creation in SOP and the time it took from me to start writing SOF I had this idea of Dastan having these two sides of him that conflict way deep down inside. Because he is a slacker, a drunk, a flirt, and the comic relief, but at the same time he is a genuinely dedicated leader and he is a very disciplined warrior. And this shadow (no pun intended) hanging over his head of his father going insane and causing his mother’s death was something I have him worrying about from the very first post. The first time he shows up in SOF he’s using his Shadow Golem (Jon) to fight Crys and it’s supposed to be training for her; fighting something that has no emotion and is therefore unpredictable to her, but it’s also a safety net for him. He’s giving her the tools to stop him if he loses control.
In one flashback I show him doing the same thing with Indrani. And because he’s that laid back guy, the flirt, the drunk, he can expose those insecurities to the people closest to him without them becoming alarmed. Not even Crys fully realized just how much he was suffering and why, only that there was something wrong.
Granted I don’t do these bits of foreshadowing to try and look clever to other people, I do them so that I can read back on them and laugh at myself. They’re like little private jokes. I don’t expect people to see them. In fact aside from Doomed and Wifey, no one usually does. It does make me extremely happy when someone figures it out though. It means that it does all fit in like the puzzle I wanted it to be. I mean, since I know the greater picture from the start, sometimes it’s hard for me to tell if I’m being too subtle, or too blatant with some of these little hints.
And about Victor, well… In the book he’s Crystal’s younger brother and; he’s one of my favorite characters in my Stonewall world. He’s not a leader, he’s not one of the heroes… And he’s not a killer. One of the first things Crys has to say about him is that he’s more fitting a protector than a killer. That sums him up perfectly well, but doesn’t make him much of a big deal as the Alpha’s only son. He handles the Wolfpack’s defenses, he never became a full assassin; by choice, and within the hierarchy of the Wolfpack he lives in Crys’ shadow for the entirety of the story. No one thinks he’s really all that great or important in the clan. And he’s okay with that. The only moments when it actually bothers him are when it rarely seems as though Crys is seeing him the same way (which… is not actually what happens, but enough spoilers).
Their relationship was in fact something I missed from writing my book around the time SOP was in progress. That was a problem because a) I wasn’t ready to go back to the book, b) I sure as hell didn’t want to ‘import’ any more book characters into Valcrest and c) Crys is an only child in the RPs.
So I created Dastan instead.
Now, I didn’t base Dastan off of Victor (for one thing, Vic doesn’t drink and he’s the first character in the books to get married; in my original draft at least), but I aimed to make him that same type of likable character and build that same type of relationship between him and Indrani where they butt heads, lean on each other and play off each others strengths and weaknesses in order to guide and protect their clan in the most effective way possible. The fact my friend admitted to being heartbroken at the thought of them parting ways now, when we don’t know if he’ll survive the illness or actually lose his shit in a near future, just feels like a freaking victory to me.
And knowing this will make it so much more fun to write them actually saying goodbye, because yeah; I only brought up him leaving, he hasn’t gone yet. Teehee.
Wow, I kinda feel less evil for punting the cutesy little sidekick in Dragon Fable after this. lol